When Pavel Datsyuk underwent ankle surgery in June, there was hope he’d be ready to start the regular season.
That hope appears to have faded.
Via MLive and Puck Daddy, the 37-year-old told SVT.se that the rehabilitation time has proven to be considerably longer than first thought. As a result, he may be out of action four or five months, which could push the start of his season into November.
Datsyuk only has two years left on his contract. While he still has the ability to dazzle, his injury log is only growing longer as his time in the NHL winds down. He hasn’t played more than 70 games since 2009-10.
That Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings’ other great center, and Niklas Kronwall, still their best defenseman, are each 34 years old only adds to the urgency to make a run at the Stanley Cup, before the reins are officially handed to the next generation.
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The Red Wings have reached an agreement with RFA blueliner Brendan Smith, signing him to a two-year, $5.5 million deal with a $2.75M average annual cap hit.
Smith, 26, was Detroit’s first-round pick at the 2007 draft and appeared in a career-high 76 games last year.
Despite that games played total, it wasn’t an incredibly successful campaign; Smith’s numbers took a dip (in points and minutes per game, specifically) and former head coach Mike Babcock made him a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the club’s opening-round series against Tampa Bay.
Still, Smith figures to be a fairly key cog of Detroit’s defense moving forward.
He’s scored himself a pretty decent raise — up from the $1.26M he was making annually on his old deal — and should be firmly planted in the top-six group alongside Niklas Kronwall, Kyle Quincey, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl and Danny DeKeyser next season.
Defenseman Victor Hedman need some time to develop into a player worthy of the expectations thrust upon him when he was taken with the second overall pick of the 2009 NHL Entry, but he’s certainly been a big part of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
In fact, Hedman has been playing at an elite level for a little while now and it’s gotten to the point where it’s encouraged of a reexamining of Sweden’s 2014 Olympic roster decisions. He was left off that team as they went with a defensive core of Alexander Edler, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Erik Karlsson, Niklas Kronwall, Johnny Oduya, and Henrik Tallinder. That group is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but was there really no room in there for Hedman?
Swedish coach Par Marts was the one to reject Hedman and he doesn’t regret that decision, per Aftonbladet. As he pointed out, it’s easy to criticize in hindsight and he argued that Hedman wouldn’t have gotten the ice time he deserved if he was put on the roster, in part because they leaned towards the defensive pairings in Detroit (Ericsson-Kronwall) and Chicago (Hjalmarsson-Oduya). At the same time though, plenty of star players go into the Olympics with the understanding that they won’t get the minutes that they’re accustomed to.
“I was surprised that he didn’t make the team,” Blackhawks defenseman Hjalmarsson said during Tuesday’s press availability. “Obviously he’s a good player.”
Hedman admitted to being disappointed, but he said it wasn’t difficult for him to switch his focus to Tampa Bay’s next game after finding out he wouldn’t make the team. Certainly he has plenty to be pleased about at this point as he took another step forward in 2014-15 and needs just two more wins to win the Cup.
Marts did leave the door open to him reaching out to Hedman over the summer. The fact that he didn’t make the 2014 team was eyebrow raising, but it will be a far bigger story if NHL players go to the 2018 Olympics and Hedman is once again left off the roster.